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Stages of lift and color corrections: going from dark to light and back again


Despite all the jokes you might hear about people wanting to go silver blonde in one sitting after coloring their hair black from a box for years, it really is a thing that gets asked for and it really is just short of impossible to achieve. The short version is that permanent color builds up inside the hair strand and has a major impact on the ability of the hair to lift levels, usually resulting in getting stuck somewhere in the orangey brown area. Sometimes it’s possible to get lighter than that with work, but sometimes it just isn’t going to happen. Let’s go into more detail about that.

Hair color works pretty much universally off of the same level system. On a scale of 1-10, 1 is the darkest and 10 is the lightest. Each level has underlying pigment to it, similar to how your skin is pigmented by melanin. The darker the hair the more solid the pigment and the more difficult it is to break that pigment up enough that you’ll be blonde. To get that beautiful silver color that’s been all the rage, you need an almost completely blank slate. That means no underlying pigment whatsoever. You can see how this could be a complication even in the best of cases.

The key to a successful color correction and application is knowing all the colors you’re working with inside and out to get the results that you want.

There won’t be a magic formula that has an exact answer for how long it will take to reach your goal or if it’s even possible. The length, condition, color history, and texture of your hair all add variables to the equation. Short, fine hair with minimal previous color will take fewer sessions to lift through than waist length, coarse hair with the same color history. If there’s a lot of damage from previous coloring or overuse of hot tools it may not be possible to lift anything from those areas. Do you know what happens when you try to use lightener on compromised hair? We call it a chemical haircut and that’s your new length now.

On the flip side going dark from light is usually a lot easier, even if it does also require multiple applications. Replacing missing pigment is always a lot easier and more predictable than removing what’s there. For the best results we need to replace the missing pigment at every level between where you are and where you want to be, working no more than 3 levels at a time and preferably only 2. For a lot of people this can be done with just a single glaze but I always like to seal it in with an extra for good measure.


No matter what you want your hair journey to be, my number one goal is always to maintain the health and integrity of your hair along the way. If your hair goal isn’t going to be attainable, I will tell you and explain why. If it’s achievable but out of your budget, I’ll work with you to find a middle ground. I won’t compromise the integrity of my work or your hair. Sometimes that means we start with just a haircut and changing your products and routines before coming back with a plan of attack.

If you’re wanting to make a big color change with your hair but you’re unsure of anything, the best way to get the answers you want is to book a consultation. I know I’m not your only option, but I am a good one.


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